The Neighborhood Literacy Center

It began with a dream… From a window in my house, I see a box truck speeding up my street and a young black male rising from the floorboard and yelling to me, “Help us Mr. Peters!”  After pondering this for a while,God dropped it in my heart to start a Reading Club for children.  

Living the dream… We began in our home with one child from the neighborhood coming each Wednesday for pizza and reading.  We soon added more children until we had 10 regulars.  After that, the children began to invite their friends and we grew to as many as 46 before we moved to a larger facility.  We now average 25 children each week with most of the children having been with us 3-6 years.  We have 15 adult team members.

Our eyes were opened to the need… It didn’t take long for us to realize that many of these children needed more help than we could give them once a week.  We began to gather some statistics…


  • A child in poverty not reading at grade level by 3rd grade is 13 times more likely to drop out of school than someone who is.
  • Reading is fundamental – Up to 3rd grade, a child is learning to read.  After that, it’s about reading in order to learn.
  • For the 2018-2019 school year, the on-time graduation rate in Richmond Public Schools was 70% compared to Hanover’s 95%. This is the worst rate in the State of Virginia
  • The drop out rate in RPS for the same year was 20%
  • Reading SOL pass rate in Richmond was 56% this past year(Hanover-84%)

    (Mary Mumford- 89%, Fairfield Court- 23%, Bellevue-54%)

Trauma… Add trauma to this and it only exacerbates the problem.  The CDC has done some wonderful research on Adverse Childhood Experiences.   For more information, see CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study 

  • ACE’s cover 3 areas, Abuse, Neglect and Household Disfunction.  As the ACE score for a child goes up, the potential negative outcomes (addiction, incarceration, disease, early death) go up exponentially.  
  • The  Children we work with are all experiencing some level of poverty and most of them have significant levels of trauma.  Only 2 out of the 25 children we work with live with their biological father.

With this overwhelming need staring us squarely in the face, we felt led to start a Literacy Center focused on this demographic.  We launched February, 2019 with 2 young boys (1st & 2nd graders) meeting 3 times a week after school for 2 hours.  We intentionally started with a small number of children so that we can create a model that is effective, sustainable and reproducible.  We added 2 additional children the summer of 2019 and are looking to add 2 more the summer of 2020.

Opportunities to help…

  • Team members for Wednesday nights 5:30-7:00 pm
    Working with another team member in a group setting of teens or reading one on one with younger children
  • Team members for Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays 4:00-6:00 pm.
    Reading with a child, doing reinforcement activities from their reading lesson 
  • Support partners
    Monthly financial partnership or a single gift to help fund our budget. There is also the opportunity for providing weekly incentives (such as a trip to McD’s) after a good week or helping supply a Literacy Center Store where LC Bucks (earned for good work) can be spent on fun items.
  • Prayer partners
    We believe that prayer is vital to the success of this work.  We welcome your prayer commitment for the children and the team.